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Tiebreaker Times

2016 Manila OQT

Let the games begin


Games Tuesday, July 5 – SM Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay City


6:00pm: Group A – Turkey vs. Canada
9:00pm: Group B – Philippines vs. France

After months and months of preparation, the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament is finally here.

With the tournament being just five days long, every win counts with the ultimate prize of gaining a coveted spot in the 2016 Olympic Games.

The opening day of the tournament will feature two blockbuster games as wildcard entry the 12 Tall Men of Turkey, eight in the world, takes on the number 26 ranked Canadian Road Warriors at 6:00pm while in the main game, the home team, the 28th ranked Gilas Pilipinas face the highest-ranked team in the tournament, the Les Bleus.

Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tab Baldwin, even with bookmakers and fans alike have been downplaying the team’s chances, believes that Gilas Pilipinas will give the French a fight.

“I’m not a big one for predictions,” Baldwin said. “I know that you look back in the history of sports, and I mean what I say, we are significant underdogs, but if you look back in history of sports, underdogs win sometimes.”

France head coach Vincent Collet shared that statistics and his team’s advantages will be negated by the home crowd.

“This game is something special. This is good competition for both teams,” Collet said. I think the atmosphere is going to be something amazing. It will be one part of the game.”

The match-up everyone has been talking about though is the match-up between Jayson Castro, dubbed as the best point guard in Asia, facing the all-time leading scorer in French basketball Tony Parker.

#ReadMore  Ateneo needs to win close games to keep four-peat bid alive, says Baldwin

“Sobrang excited, syempre makakalaban mo yung isa sa mga ini-idolo mo,” Castro said about the match-up against the San Antonio Spur. “Pero kelangan isang tabi muna natin yun pag-idolo, focus muna sa game.”

Match is set to tip-off at 9:00pm.

In the first game, Turkey faces the bronze medal finishers in the 2015 FIBA Americas, Canada.

“Everyone has the same dream of going to Rio and every game is going to be very competitive. France and Turkey have a lot of experience, but every team is going to Manilla with ambition,” Canada’s floor general Cory Joseph said.

On the other hand, the ever-confident Turkish head coach Ergin Ataman likes his chances in being drawn with Canada and Senegal.

“I can say that this time, luck was on our side. Of course, only the team that wins this tournament will head to the Olympics,” Ataman said. “We’re going to give everything we have to be the team that goes to Rio. In Manila, the team that will be toughest for us is undoubtedly France.”

 

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